Random Glimpses from a Gathering First-timer

Arrived exhausted after preparations—not a good way to begin. Not difficult, though, to regain a sense of direction. Good to have arrived early to explore and become familiar with the territory.

Funny, funky introduction by "flight attendant" Allissa Rowan (from Northside Meeting in Chicago, Ill.) before we take off on our Gathering "flight"—e.g., "Please stow any religious baggage under your seat." But she talked fast and I missed some of what she said.

Little four-year-old Vivian coming with a smile to sit in opening worship, quietly swinging her legs as her gift to God, or sitting enfolded in her mother’s arms while she carefully listened to the whisper in her ear explaining why people stood to interrupt the silence, and then, after a half hour, happily leaving with her grandmother.

Blessed are those who provided a silent dining room away from the deafening roar of Friends enjoying that of God in each other while overeating the abundant, good food.

Don’t get between a Friend and food—or the elevator door.

Two boys’ happy laughs as they played outside with a rushing radio-controlled toy.

The wide spectrum of young and old Friends’ awareness—some springing to aid the wheelchair-bound while others pushed through to their own food or doorways. Kind "helper" volunteers for those in wheelchairs.

Wonderful openings in Donald Dyer’s "Light, with Fox and Jung" workshop.

Organizers’ assistance beyond compare, both beforehand and at Gathering. Notices every day—no excuse to be uninformed.

So good to be in a place where one does not need to explain Friendly ways to anyone.

Marvelous to see so many eager Young Friends and little ones—a good sign of hope for Friends’ future.

Too big, too many, too hot, too good to miss.

—James Arnold Baker